McKenzie Co. Sheriff's Lieutenant says county officials changed policies to fit narrative

Published: Nov. 1, 2016 at 5:00 PM CDT
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McKenzie County Sheriff's Lieutenant Michael Schmitz claims the county commission, county state's attorney and the human resource office secretly changed the county policy to fit its narrative.

Lieutenant Schmitz says in May, county officials changed the harassment definition and added retaliation to the employee handbook. He claims the officials failed to notify the sheriff's office until 10 days later, when the Village Business Institute started its investigation regarding bullying and retaliation within the office.

Last month, the commission placed Schmitz on unpaid administrative leave due to the allegations, but Schmitz claims the commission didn't follow the proper protocol, so Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger has allowed him to work because he says he didn't do anything wrong.

"Based upon the McKenzie County Employee Handbook, I answer directly to the sheriff. I am caught in this crossfire between the commissioners and the sheriff, so I have to rely upon what I can read that touch and that is the employee handbook which states I answer to the sheriff as the department head and Captain Lloyd Clock as my supervisor," says Schmitz.

The McKenzie County State's Attorney's Office and Commission Chairman Richard Cayko were not available to make a comment regarding Lieutenant Schmitz's claims.